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Crews transform Regina's Brandt Centre ice for upcoming Montana's Brier

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Preparations are underway for the Montana’s Brier, which will officially take over the Brandt Centre on Friday and see the top men’s curlers in the country competing for the national title.

Greg Ewasko, head ice technician for Curling Canada, said they arrived on Saturday to prepare the ice for the big event.

“We used a laser transit and we lasered the ice and made sure the guys did a really good job with the Zamboni and made it nice and flat so it makes it easier for us. Then we painted the white with a product that’s just in White City, then cut the circles, painted the circles, and within 10 hours this is what you see,” he said.

Jet Ice is a small company that supplies products to the curling and hockey industries and its main office is based conveniently in White City.

David Loverock, vice president of Jet Ice, said the company was based in Richmond Hill, Ont., at the main manufacturing plant but then decided to move.

“We decided curling was going to be a big part of our business, and because of Donny Lewis, the head of CCF and the curling association, we decided that White City would be an ideal spot to open up a warehouse,” he explained.

“Almost every major curling event, we supply for. We supply for the Olympics, we supply for the NHL, we’ve been doing it for 45 years and every year trying to make a better quality product,” he added.

On Tuesday, Loverock and Ewasko were on hand to help with the next steps of the preparation process.

“Today we’re just going to do the last couple of floods, we were preparing the rocks. Every event, the rocks get sanded, textured. We’ll test them on the ice. Then this afternoon is going to be the last flood before we prepare the ice, get it pebbled, get it straight,” explained Ewasko.

The rocks arrived in Regina after they were used in Calgary for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts the last two weeks.

“As you saw first the spinning of the rocks and that’s what we’re doing. We’re actually narrowing them back down to what manufactured specs were and then we’re basically running them back up at a nine o’clock position to get a crosshairs in the rocks,” said Ewasko.

Ewasko also detailed the pebble process and how important his job is for the curlers.

“We come out with our little Zambonis; scrape the ice nice and flat. Then we put on two kinds of pebble. A finer pebble on the bottom and a nicer pebble on the top. We always say without us icemakers, you wouldn’t have the championship. So everything that comes on your TV, if it wasn’t really for us, you wouldn’t have that sport on your television,” Ewasko shared lightheartedly.

It is a long process to get ready for the 10-day event and the work does not let up during either.

“Usually the first four days we’re here roughly about 16 hours a day until the ice is installed. During the course of the championship, we’re here at 6 a.m. and we don’t go home until probably 11:30, 12 o’clock at night time,” Ewasko said.

“We’re monitoring the ice temperatures and then adjusting the plant during the course of the game. In between games, we come out and we resurface the ice. I try to make my rounds during practices, try to talk to the eight teams that are out here throwing the rocks. So that we have a relationship that they can come tell me, ‘Hey, there’s something wrong with the ice.’”

When asked what the hardest part of his job as an ice technician for these big events is, Ewasko said it comes down to making sure nothing changes throughout the entire competition.

“The toughest job is just making sure that the consistency form the first rock of the very first day is exactly the same on the last day, last rock,” he said.

The Montana’s Brier gets underway on Friday with the first draw getting underway at 6 p.m.

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